śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 10, Issue 4
Posted: 17 May 2017

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Professional Priests and Orators
Cannot Claim to Be Gurus

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda


If we want the śreya-panthā, the way to our true welfare, then we should follow the precept of Śruti, or Veda, and even give up the popular opinion of a vast number of people. Śruti says, “One who wishes to know Veda should, with a proper mood, approach that guru who is not only versed in the Vedic lore, but firmly established in serving God (brahma)” (Muṇḍaka Upaṇiṣad I.2.12). The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam repeats this same instruction (2.3.21): “One who wishes to know the highest good should surrender to that guru who is conversant with the teachings of the Vedas and with the culture of God, and who, having obtained a transcendental conception about that Parabrahma, has acquired true peace in an undisturbed mind”.

One may be fortunate enough to have a Vaiṣṇava (worshipper of Viṣṇu, Hari, Kṛṣṇa, etc.) as one’s guru, otherwise (as in Hari-bhakti-vilāsa): “One will only attain hell by chanting a mantra given by a non-Vaiṣṇava; one in such a situation should again take mantra from a Vaiṣṇava guru according to scriptural procedures.” And in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmrta it has been declared: “One should first practice dharma before teaching it to another; unless you do it yourself, you cannot teach it.”

Platform speakers or professional priests cannot claim to be gurus. If I were a professional discourser on the Bhāgavata and I happened upon an advertisement that the position of a sweeper had become vacant and that it carried an emolument higher than what I earn from my discourses, I would submit an application for it, ready to give up my present profession.

This is the nature of professional priests. If a man does not keep himself engaged in hari-bhajana (service to God) all the time, then he is engaged in some other occupation in the name of serving God. And harbouring this sinful motive while taking God’s Names is a great spiritual offence. Such a man has many other functions to perform. He has ten minutes’ constitutional walk, fifteen minutes’ luncheon, twenty minutes’ meetings with men, and so on. His discourses on the Bhāgavatam are one of his various functions. But if he were exclusively dedicated to serving the Bhāgavatam, then he would keep himself in the service of Hari at every step, while chewing each morsel, and during each inhalation.

A stipend-holder or a contractor cannot explain the Bhāgavatam. First of all, refrain from approaching a professional priest. See whether the discourser fully devotes his time to the Bhāgavatam or not. For one who is absolutely absorbed in the culture of Parabrahma, all one’s time is exclusively spent in ‘sevā’ (service to God). In his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has prescribed that we should constantly remain in the association of a holy saint who is more advanced than us, who is affectionate toward us, and whose moods (regarding his specific form of devotion to God) are similar to our own; and that we should relish the meanings of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam with men of confirmed taste (rasika).

If one is Purāṇa-tīrtha (one who has passed the final examination in the subject), it does not certify that one has been able to lead one’s life according to the ideal of the Bhāgavatam. Our relationship with the expounder of the Bhāgavatam is not the same as with teachers in schools and colleges. Among those teachers, anyone who can explain the lessons in a pleasant way so as to make the students understand them easily, is regarded as an excellent teacher; it does not matter what type of life that teacher leads or what type of character he may bear. The same type of test does not apply to a discourser of the Bhāgavatam; rather that discourser should be a bhāgavata (or great devotee), himself.

One is far from being a bhāgavata if one has cupidity for wealth, fame or honour, or has any other kind of motive in the background, even though his delivery may be very attractive. Mens’ minds cannot be attracted towards the real truth dealt with in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam if they hear it explained from the mouth of such a discourser.


Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 5, Number 5<br />by the <em>Rays of The Harmonist</em> team</p> <p>

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